Tobin K-8 – STEM Field Trip (02.24.2021)

Today was our second field trip of National Engineer’s Week! 75 x 4th/5th graders from the Tobin K-8 School came to learn about Engineering and the Design Process! Today’s field trip was led by NU students (and Center for STEM Education work studies) Tyree and Hadeel, with additional assistance by NU students Karen and Samantha.

When asked what skills an engineer needs, the students had some great responses: persistence/perseverance, knowing where parts go (i.e. background knowledge), hard work, organizational skills, and a positive mindset! Perseverance is a huge skill to have in engineering, as you’ll often have designs that don’t work – and being able to bounce back and improve your design (or try out a completely new idea) is important.

Whilst building the paper towers, there was some really neat designs and associated real world connections. One of the students cut out pieces of paper from the middle of her tower that weren’t providing any support and used these to make her tower taller. This is a common practice in the engineering world to save on costs, particularly with expensive materials: for example, you’ll often see metalwork with holes drilled in it to save metal. A couple students had towers that were taped to bases, a rudimentary foundation for their towers. One of the students added beads to the top of her tower – making it look very pretty; this led to a discussion about aesthetics in engineering. For example, here are some aesthetically-pleasing buildings. Aesthetics is of course in the “eye of the beholder” – i.e. everyone has their own opinions. One of my favorite buildings for example is the Boston City Hall, which is built in a brutalist-style, but a lot of people consider this building to be very ugly.

We wrapped the day up with a STEM/College 101 panel with our volunteers (see questions on right).

Thank you to all volunteers, students, and teachers (including City Year service members) for making this field trip possible!

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